Equipment Loan Leads to Suspects’ Arrest
on Federal Narcotics Charges
A Global Positioning System (GPS) vehicle tracker on loan from MAGLOCLEN assisted in a long-term narcotics investigation conducted by the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Police Department, Narcotics Unit; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-Group 6; and the FBI-Group 3 involving the distribution of heroin and money laundering in the Philadelphia area. The equipment was used to track the suspects’ vehicles and aided the investigators in securing search warrants for the suspects’ properties.
The investigation culminated with the execution of five search warrants and the arrest of three suspects on federal narcotics charges. Seizures included 12 kilos of heroin, valued at $1,960,000; $314,820 in U.S. currency; and five vehicles, valued at $75,000.
Timeline Charts Help Obtain Guilty
Verdict in Child Pornography Case
The United States Attorney’s Office, District of North Dakota, contacted the MOCIC analytical staff for assistance with a child pornography case. The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), and the Fargo, North Dakota, Police Department.
The case initially came to the attention of law enforcement after a North Dakota BCI special agent assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force discovered two computers geographically located in North Dakota that were sharing child pornography in a peer-to-peer network. During the investigation, federal and state authorities seized more than 13 hard drives and 43 digital video disks containing child pornography. Subsequent forensic examinations revealed more than 22,000 images and videos depicting mostly young girls engaged in sexually explicit conduct. While prosecutors were preparing for trial, the government shut down, making it impossible for the charts for courtroom presentation to be completed in time for the trial.
At the request of prosecutors, the MOCIC staff prepared a number of timelines that were ultimately used in the courtroom. The suspect was found guilty of 14 counts of possession of materials containing child pornography. According to prosecutors, the charts that were prepared by MOCIC were very helpful.
RISSProp E-mail Alert System-An Essential
Tool in Solving Break-ins
The Wilbraham, Massachusetts, Police Department used the e-mail alert feature in the RISS Property and Recovery Tracking System (RISSProp) to flag a subject who was reasonably suspected of being involved in several housebreaks in the area. The Wilbraham Police Department was alerted via the system that the person they had flagged had sold several items at stores in the Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Chicopee within a week of the break-ins. Further investigation linked the individual to several break-ins in the surrounding communities of Hampden and East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, as well as Wilbraham.
A search warrant was executed at the suspect’s residence, and a subsequent arrest was made. The suspect is currently being held on several charges from several surrounding communities. Mostly jewelry and electronics, valued at $5,000, were stolen in the break-ins. Approximately half of the items were recovered, either at the stores or at the suspect’s residence, as a result of the search warrant. The e-mail alert system was an essential tool in solving these cases.
RISSafe Provides Officer Safety During
Arrest at Drug Stash House
Detectives with the Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department identified a house that they believed was being used as a drug stash house. Prior to making contact at the house, the detectives utilized RISSafe to deconflict the address. The RMIN staff quickly let the detectives know that no other agency was working the house. The quick response allowed the agency to arrest a subject inside the house before he left the location. The house contained 1,000 pounds of marijuana, valued at $500,000, and $1,121 in U.S. currency.
Intelligence Research Staff Assistance Leads to
Suspect’s Arrest in Identity Theft Investigation
“The ROCIC intelligence research staff provided crucial information that was needed to obtain probable cause for a search warrant, ultimately leading to the arrest of a perpetrator who was accused of stealing the identities of terminally ill cancer patients,” stated the assistant chief with the Shelby County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s Office, who was the lead investigator.
Seized documents included medical reports of at least ten more patients who were targeted as potential victims, plus evidence that the suspect also planned to target a local mental health facility and its patients. Seizures also included approximately 500 debit cards, falsified payroll checks, and bogus federal income tax returns. Without the background information received from ROCIC, the investigators would have had to wait to conduct a trash pull, thereby losing viable leads and allowing more victims to be defrauded. Following the agreement of the cancer patients to prosecute, the judge assigned the defendant a $20 million bond. Additional arrests are anticipated, following the identification of associates of the defendant by ROCIC database checks.
The lead investigator said, “I view ROCIC as a weapon that I have used on countless occasions to access intelligence that I would otherwise not have at my disposal. This case is one where, without this intelligence, the suspect would be in operation as we speak.” He added that the information from ROCIC ultimately saved countless man-hours of additional investigation. Also participating in the investigation was the United States Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol Criminal Investigation Division.
“Operation Crystal Lens” Investigation Results in
Culmination of Narcotics Criminal Enterprise
The West Contra Costa County, California, Narcotics Enforcement Team and the Federal Bureau of Investigation initiated an investigation titled “Operation Crystal Lens” after receipt of information and intelligence that a primary suspect and his criminal associates were major traffickers of narcotics and firearms and involved in laundering proceeds.
The investigation returned that this criminal enterprise was trafficking major quantities of meth on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel. It also showed that the suspect was connected to the Norteño criminal street gang. The investigative team coordinated countless confidential sources, undercover operations, surveillances, cell phone tracking, wiretaps, and other investigative techniques. All operations were deconflicted through RISSafe, and WSIN provided confidential funds to assist with undercover buys.
As a result of the two-year investigation and enforcement actions, there were 18 arrests and 475 pounds of methamphetamine, 158 grams of cocaine, $953,193 in U.S. currency, 13 long guns, 8 handguns, 5 high-capacity magazines, 4 vehicles, and 2 motorcycles were seized. Operation Crystal Lens was brought to a successful conclusion due, in part, to WSIN’s financial support and central repository for law enforcement to deconflict and share information.
Does your agency need a secure environment for collaboration and other information sharing? If you answered yes, then a RISS Secure Hosted Website may be the resource you have been looking for. These secure, full-function collaboration websites can be established on a nationwide, regional, local, or team level to share information, post materials, and communicate. Many diverse organizations and associations have established RISS Secure Hosted Websites, including the Assured Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) Network Interoperability Working Group, the National Interagency Fire Center, the Medicaid Fraud Control Units, the Medicaid Integrity Institute, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. These partners collaborate and share information related to law enforcement and public safety.
RISS offers the RISS Secure Hosted Websites to nonprofit law enforcement associations, governmental organizations, and groups that meet one of the following eligibility criteria:
- Statewide law enforcement associations
- Crime-specific organizations
- Gang investigators’ associations
- Governmental organizations created with the express purpose of sharing intelligence information and furthering communication among law enforcement in a secure environment
- Governmental organizations responsible for critical infrastructure and key resources
- Other organizations deemed appropriate by the in-region RISS Center Director or the RISS National Policy Group, as appropriate
Examples of purposes served by RISS Secure Hosted Websites include:
- Sharing information and investigative techniques to address burglary and fraudulent check-cashing crimes across multiple jurisdictions.
- Providing a secure collaboration environment for exchanging information related to marijuana eradication.
- Hosting regional and state gang investigation association websites.
- Identifying, investigating, and prosecuting scrap metal theft cases.
- Increasing information sharing between criminal justice agencies and fusion centers.
RISS Secure Hosted Websites are created by staff at the RISS Technology Support Center (RTSC), in conjunction with in-region RISS Center staff and in consultation with the partner for which the site will be created. Based on the information provided by the partner to the in-region RISS Center, the RTSC creates the website and provides secure access to the administrative portion of the site to those persons identified by the partner as site Owners. To help ensure that all RISS Secure Hosted Websites maintain a professional look and feel, RISS provides a set of established SharePoint site templates. The site Owners work with staff from their in-region RISS Center to select the template best suited for their website and to build the initial content. An example of a Secure Hosted Website is below.
To help ensure consistent use of the RISS Secure Hosted Websites across all partner instances, the in-region RISS Center will provide initial training and reference material to the site Owners.
Requests to establish a RISS Secure Hosted Website are processed by the in-region RISS Center. RISS Center staff will review the needs of the group and offer direction. Eligible groups must complete a RISS Secure Hosted Website Application Form and submit it to their in-region RISS Center for review. In addition to the RISS Secure Hosted Website Application Form, requests for websites must include a copy of the group’s current governing document, including membership criteria. RISS Center staff may follow up with the requesting organization for more specific information regarding the site request.
RISS has experienced great success with developing these secure hosted websites for organizations to use to share information. There are more than 30 RISS Secure Hosted Websites, and the number continues to increase. If you or your agency would like more information regarding establishing a RISS Secure Hosted Website, contact your in-region RISS Center.
RISS serves thousands of law enforcement and public safety agencies across the country in their effort to successfully resolve criminal investigations, apprehend and prosecute offenders, maintain security, and ensure officer safety through nationwide event deconfliction. RISS operates the RISS Secure Cloud (RISSNET), which connects disparate systems, provides bidirectional sharing, and offers a federated search of connected systems. RISSNET serves as the secure infrastructure for hundreds of critical resources and investigative tools. One of these critical resources available via RISSNET is the RISS Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System (RISSafe).
Blue-on-blue incidents occur when an officer or investigator inadvertently hurts or kills another officer. An example of this is when officers from multiple agencies are investigating the same individual or organization at the same time and are not aware of each other’s efforts. RISSafe is an essential component in helping to ensure officer safety. RISSafe stores and maintains data on planned law enforcement events-such as raids, controlled buys, and surveillances-with the goal of identifying and alerting affected agencies and officers of potential conflicts impacting law enforcement efforts. The interaction between RISSafe and the RISS Criminal Intelligence Database (RISSIntel) provides comprehensive officer safety event and subject deconfliction services as operational and investigative tools. Many agencies have adopted internal policies mandating the use of RISSafe. RISSafe is a comprehensive and nationwide deconfliction system that is monitored by on-duty RISSafe Watch Center personnel. RISSafe Watch Centers monitor events and notify officers of potential conflicts. RISSafe is accessible on a 24/7/365 basis and available at no cost to all law enforcement agencies. It is impossible to put a monetary value on the number of officers that RISSafe has helped protect from harm or, worse, death.
Since its inception, more than 840,000 operations have been entered into RISSafe, resulting in more than 292,000 identified conflicts. On average, one in three RISSafe submissions results in an identified conflict between officers and operations. Currently, 22 RISSafe Watch Centers are operational, 16 of which are operated by organizations other than RISS, such as state agencies, fusion centers, and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA). These organizations have invested resources to support this critical officer safety program. Additional agencies are working to establish RISSafe Watch Centers. RISSafe continues to proliferate throughout the country, with demand for its use increasing each day.
RISSafe is just one of the officer safety resources available through RISS. RISSafe Mobile enables officers to access RISSafe from their smartphones and other mobile devices. The RISS Officer Safety Website serves as a nationwide repository for issues related to officer safety, such as concealments, hidden weapons, armed and dangerous threats, officer safety videos, special reports, and training. Registered users of the VALOR Web Portal who are sworn law enforcement are also able to access the RISS Officer Safety Website.
RISSafe was recognized and honored as one of the ten 2010 Honorable Mention Winners at the 23rd Annual Government Computer News Awards for “Outstanding Information Technology Achievement in Government.” RISSafe also received a Laureate Honors award in the Safety and Security category of the 2011 Computerworld Honors Program.
The Nationwide Event Deconfliction Partner Project aims to promote the use of officer safety event deconfliction among the law enforcement community and to interconnect existing event deconfliction systems. The three nationally recognized event deconfliction systems include RISSafe, Case Explorer, and SAFETNet, which are used by HIDTAs throughout the country. These systems complement each other and provide unique features and functionality to their individual user base. The availability of more than one event deconfliction system enables law enforcement agencies to select the product that best meets their needs, allows for redundancy and backup strategies, leverages the expertise of partner entities, maximizes the strengths of each system, and provides for shared opportunities and solutions. As of March 1, 2014, RISSafe and Case Explorer are fully connected utilizing the Entity Matching System (EMS) solution (developed by Case Explorer) and are operational in all six RISS regions. SAFETNet is in the process of testing a solution to connect to Case Explorer. Work is also under way to explore options to connect SAFETNet and RISSafe.
Safeguarding our nation’s law enforcement officers while maintaining the integrity of investigations is a top priority among law enforcement at all levels. RISS and HIDTA are dedicated to supporting this critical need by enhancing officer and public safety, offering interoperable nationwide event deconfliction coverage, promoting the importance of event deconfliction, expanding trusted partnerships, and providing education and support to law enforcement agencies.
To learn more about how RISSafe can protect you and your officers in the field, visit www.riss.net/Resources/RISSafe.
RISS and the NNOAC have shared a strong and trusted partnership for many years. The NNOAC is composed of individual state narcotic associations representing more than 65,000 narcotic law enforcement officers nationwide. NNOAC actively researches, monitors, and supports efforts focused on increasing the effectiveness of law enforcement and specifically narcotic enforcement. Many of RISS’s services and programs directly aid narcotics officers with case resolution and officer safety. See the article “RISS Supports Narcotics Investigations” contained within this issue of the RISS Insider.
In February, the NNOAC held its annual conference in Washington, DC. The RISS policy board members, the RISS Directors, and other key RISS representatives participated in
the conference. Mr. Donald Kennedy, Executive Director, NESPIN, and Chair of the RISS National Policy Group, and Mr. Matt McDonald, RISS National Coordinator, provided a presentation on how RISS resources directly impact law enforcement investigations. The presentation included an overview of RISS, information on the investigative and case support provided by RISS, and how RISS enhances officer safety through the RISS Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System (RISSafe).
The presentation also included how RISS provides support to the nation’s public safety mission through its nationwide initiatives and partnerships, such as the Northeast Fusion Center Intelligence Project, the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange (N-DEx), and the Nationwide Event Deconfliction Partner Project.
During Mr. Kennedy’s presentation regarding RISSafe, Mr. Bob Bushman, President of the NNOAC, stated that RISSafe “helps keep our men and women safe every day. There is no excuse for any law enforcement agency in the country not to use a deconfliction system.”
Ms. Karol Mason, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs (OJP), provided a summary of OJP’s efforts and priorities. She also provided some information about the RISS Program and its impact to law enforcement. Mr. Kshemendra Paul, Program Manager, Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE), focused his comments on efforts to further expand the information sharing environment, streamline access and authentication protocols, and move toward federation. He mentioned RISS a number of times as a key player in those efforts. Other speakers focused on anti-drug legalization initiatives, emerging trends and drug trafficking issues, strategic and smart approaches to legalization, border efforts, and other narcotics-related topics.
The conference was an excellent opportunity to learn about the current trends, hear from narcotics investigators, and discuss future efforts and plans to support narcotics officers throughout the country. RISS and the NNOAC will continue to work together with their partners to provide law enforcement officers with critical information sharing, investigative support, and officer safety tools.
For more information regarding the NNOAC, visit www.natlnarc.org.
The manufacture, sale, trafficking, and use of illegal narcotics continues to be a threat to our communities. Law enforcement officers face constant and ever-growing challenges in their fight against drugs. From the smallest towns to large metropolitan areas, officers are working narcotics investigations, conducting undercover operations, and striving to keep our streets safe.
Often, these officers need additional support in obtaining information on criminals, witnesses, or victims. In addition, many agencies do not have the resources to obtain analytical, digital forensics, or audio/video enhancement services, which can play a critical role in identifying, apprehending, and prosecuting drug violators. A California police officer stated, “Narcotics investigations would be crippled without RISS’s analytical assistance.”
With the volatile and dangerous conditions that many narcotics officers work under, ensuring their safety and the safety of citizens is a top priority.
The six RISS Centers have supported narcotics officers and investigations since the organization’s inception more than 40 years ago. RISS’s “all-crimes” approach is ideal in supporting all law enforcement-especially narcotics-because of its nexus between narcotics and numerous other criminal activities. RISS’s structure and service delivery model serves as a “one-stop shop” and enables officers to obtain timely access to critical information to aid their efforts and keep them safe.
RISS offers a full range of support services that assist law enforcement officers from the beginning of an investigation to the ultimate prosecution and conviction of criminals. RISS assists narcotics officers by providing:
- Analytical support services, such as link-analysis charts, crime scene diagrams, telephone toll analysis reports, and financial analysis reports, in addition to digital forensics services and audio/video enhancements.
- Equipment such as surveillance equipment and specialized cameras, recorders, and other devices.
- One-on-one technical support through RISS’s field services staff.
- Confidential funds to assist investigators with undercover operations, buy-busts, etc.
- Comprehensive intelligence and investigative research reports.
- Numerous training opportunities on timely and relevant topics such as investigative techniques and emerging crime. Recent training events included Clandestine Drug Lab and Synthetic Drug Awareness, a Prescription Drug Abuse Summit, and Basic Drug Recognition for Police, Fire, and EMS.
- Law enforcement-sensitive briefings and publications, such as The Heroin Resurgence: A Painkiller Epidemic, Bath Salts: Deadly New Designer Drug, and Marijuana Legalization: Law Enforcement’s Response.
In addition to the RISS investigative services, RISS also offers important information sharing and intelligence resources via the RISS Secure Cloud (RISSNET). Numerous partner and other criminal justice resources are also accessible via RISSNET, such as Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas’ (HIDTA) resources. A few examples of how RISS resources can assist narcotics investigations are described below:
- The RISS Criminal Intelligence Database (RISSIntel) user interface provides for a real-time, online federated search of more than 35 RISS and partner intelligence databases.
- The RISS Gang Program (RISSGang) Website dedicates a section to drug/cartel organizations. The site includes photos, hand signs, and other information to help gang and narcotics investigators.
- The RISSLeads Investigative Website provides the opportunity for investigators to have secure discussion boards on various topics, including narcotics. Training and other events are also posted.
- RISS develops secure hosted websites for investigators to share information, post materials, and communicate. There are more than 30 sites housed on RISSNET.
- RISS provides access to investigative databases, such as the RISS Property and Recovery Tracking System (RISSProp), to assist with narcotics investigations related to property crime.
One resource that is vital to a narcotics officer is the RISS Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System (RISSafe). RISSafe helps detect conflicts between agencies and officers that may be investigating the subject at the same time or planning an operation in the same vicinity at the same time. Especially with undercover operations and the potential for blue-on-blue incidents, securely obtaining information on conflicting operations is essential.
A Tempe, Arizona, detective and a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) representative submitted the following joint statement, “RISSafe was used in Arizona to ensure officer safety and that the operation was not compromised by other agency activities being conducted within the same areas of interest. In addition, the RISSafe analysts were extremely helpful.” Another DEA representative said, “RISS has continued to provide excellent customer service and immediate notification(s) for any case overlaps.”
Through RISSafe, RISS has prevented narcotic officer injuries and deaths that might otherwise have occurred. To learn more about RISSafe and deconfliction efforts, view the article in this edition of the RISS Insider.
In FY2013 alone, agencies and officers using RISS services made narcotics seizures valued at more than $30 million. RISS offers numerous resources and services that can be critical in assisting your agency in solving narcotics crimes and removing criminals from our streets. For more information regarding RISS, visit, www.riss.net. To view narcotics-related and other shared successes submitted by agencies and officers, visit www.riss.net/Impact.